First, a confession: I am a Twitter skeptic. The whole phenomenon strikes me as more than a bit ridiculous. Plus, frankly, between the story writing and the blogging and the Facebooking and the e-mailing and the phone-calling and the occasional actual in-person conversation, I'm not sure how much more communicating I need. And there are some indications of trouble in Twitterdom.
But when I got the news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announcing that their media relations folks have launched three Twitter feeds, I knew it was time. Turns out that I had already been auto-tweeting -- the good folks at Boston.com had set up a username, GlobeReligion, that was sending out my blog posts. And last week I finally sat down with Joel Abrams, the Globe's leading Twitter evangelist (we're not dead yet!) and de facto Twitter tutor, for a crash course in micro-blogging, short-messaging, or whatever it is that twittering means. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with Twitter, but I don't think I'll be sharing what I had for breakfast today (OK, it was a bowl of Cranberry Almond Crunch) or how well I slept last night (just fine, thanks) but rather flagging interesting items in the Globe and beyond about religion, and maybe offering a backstage view of the glamorous world of religion reporting. (Inevitably, Editor & Publisher took a look at the ethical implications of newspaper twittering this week.) You'll notice that in the right rail of the blog there is now a widget with my most recent Twitter updates and instructions for following along, and for finding my fellow Boston.com twitterers.
Meantime, I'm trying to understand how others are using Twitter. Obviously I'm now following the bishops. And happily, as it turns out, JTA had just published a list of the world's 100 most influential Jewish twitterers, so I plan to take a look at those. And if you know of other interesting religion news twitterers, please let me know, either by adding a comment below or sending me an e-mail.
Loyal readers of this blog may also notice that we've made a slight design change -- we've reworked the Articles of Faith banner to add a little more pizzazz in the form of an initial letter in the style of an illustrated manuscript -- we were aiming for something that was evocative of religion but nonsectarian, so all kinds of icons were rejected (even the color purple was nixed as overly liturgical). The new drop cap "A" was designed by Dan Zedek, so many thanks go to him.
This blog is now ten months old, and as of this writing the first 390 posts have drawn nearly 1.5 million page views and 12,500 comments. By far the most popular characters in this unfolding saga have been three women -- Sarah Palin, Mary Ann Glendon, and Susan Boyle -- so my thanks to each of them for existing. And my thanks to all of you for reading; as always, if you have suggestions or concerns, fire away.